June 3, 2011

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Planet of the Apes, Tarzan and Space Mouse!

Welcome back readers to another week here at From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, where we have a packed little column this week for you to absorb into your brains and have a lot of fun with! Aside from some news, we take a look at Planet of the Apes from Boom!, the film Tarzan and the Leopard Woman, and the forgotten pilot for Space Mouse!

And the verdict is a round of high-fives, wherever your preferred place to high-five someone just happens to be! It was confirmed last week that cult-Japanese film maker Takashi Miike (who has done everything from ultra-violent horror with Audition and Ichi The Killer, to family films like The Great Yokai War and Zebra Man) is currently directing a big screen adaptation of Capcom’s video game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, produced by famed Toei Studios. Phoenix Wright, best known for his series of Nintendo DS video games, has spawned a huge fan base, especially in the American anime/manga community. A collection of fan comics was published by Dell Rey in two volumes a little while back, and an American release of the official Japanese manga has been on the upcoming releases for stateside for a few months now. Very exciting and cool news!

Dark Horse has a ton of great archive editions of classic comics, as I have mentioned before here. Mighty Samson, originally printed by Dell, is this lost gem of yesteryear that both in terms of writing and art is brilliant and deserves a second peek. We reviewed volume one, two, and three here on our site; click on the links and check them out!

On Stands Now: Planet of the Apes #1
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writing: Daryl Gregory
Art: Carlos Magno

Out on stands this week with a 2nd printing is the hit Planet of the Apes comic book from Boom! Studios. It’s awesome and worth every ounce of ink they’re using for this brand new run. Big round of applause for this title!

Taking place 1,200 years before the first film, we are introduced to the ape society at its golden age, ruling the planet and trying to find balance with the humans. However, after the Lawgiver is assassinated by what appears to be a human with an ancient weapon, it looks like the ape society is heading for a major crackdown towards this growing menace known as human beings. The writing by Daryl Gregory is fantastic, smart, and filled with both suspense and action. Some comics it’s easy to get swept up by the visual and let the writing come second, and kind of breeze through the word bubbles. Well not here. Gregory gives us writing we want to read, not always an easy task, so tip of the hat to you, sir. On the art side of things Magno has done a stellar job, giving us detailed art with excellent action layouts, and capturing the world of the apes to a visual tee. Basically reader: don’t think twice about picking up this new adventure into the world of Planet of the Apes; you’ll be sorry if you don’t read it sooner and just wait for a collection, so buy it now!

(Note: To the parents who browse this column looking for something for their younger readers, be advised Planet of the Apes does have some blood shed and violence. I know traditionally Planet of the Apes is usually fine for most people when their kids hit middle school and I don’t think this comic is any different, however, as we have done in the past when we cover items that are a little more “edgy” in this column, we recommend you take a look yourself first.)

Something To Watch: Tarzan and the Leopard Woman

After reviewing here on our site the Dark Horse archive of  Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years volume 9 a few weeks back, I was in the mood to watch some Tarzan films (like Godzilla or James Bond, there are a billion of them out there), and I came upon this little gem from 1946 called Tarzan and the Leopard Woman, produced by RKO and starring Johnny Weissmuller (most people’s preferred classic Tarzan). In this adventure Tarzan battles against a cult of assassins who dress in Leopard garb and are led by the Leopard Woman, who have been attacking caravans transporting goods across the jungle. This film is a lot of fun, from the opening scenes with Tarzan wrestling a strongman, to the end at the Leopard’s cave lair; tons of wonderful material in this one. The Tarzan scenes are great and filled with fist pounding action, and the group of leopard killers are a really cool group of villains to see him go up against. The coolest part of this film is when Tarzan is away, we get to see a massive direct attack on Boy and Jane in their massive tree-house home in the jungle, and the scene is a stellar ride of action and adventure. Like something like the X-Men’s mansion or the U.S.S. Enterprise blowing up, seeing a direct massive assault on their home is that cinema magic fans hope for. Also this reviewer agrees with many fans that seeing Weissmuller as Tarzan is always a priceless time. Your something to watch this weekend is Tarzan and the Leopard Woman, available on DVD.

Bonus Something To Watch: Space Mouse pilot episode

In 1959, Dell Comics were publishing a ton of comics based off Walter Lantz cartoons such as Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy. Needing to find a new character that could sustain his own title, Lantz created Space Mouse, a Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon type of mouse-hero who battled alien cats and the like in outer space. Space Mouse would appear in several Dell comic books filling the imaginations of the youths, however, in the field of animation where Lantz’s characters were coming from, he’d only make it as far as a pilot episode of sorts with a theatrical short in 1959 titled “The Secret Weapon” (and later shown on TV as part of The Woody Woodpecker Show). The short is a ton of fun to watch, which is why I’m even mentioning a single short to you in my column to track down and watch. The animation is the fun and brightly colored Walter Lantz style of the time, as seen in Woody Woodpecker, and the writing is a simple plot (Space Mouse fights off alien cats from invading his home planet of Rodentcia), but has a handful of laugh-out-loud gags, some not all politically correct for our time now, that will please fans of Bat-Fink, Woody Woodpecker, and more. This pilot for Space Mouse can be found as a bonus in The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2 on DVD, or you may be able to hunt it down online.

That’s it for this week, see you next and remember, Reptilicus loves you!

Drew McCabe




  1. […] get enough of Takashi Miike these days, I guess. Last week we told you about him directing the adaptation of anime/manga favorite Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney, […]

  2. […] of Woody Woodpecker’s creator Walter Lantz and his creation Space Mouse a few weeks ago in this column). The comics are timeless and great as I read them, and I kept thinking, “What would be the […]

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